Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: NOT / OUR TOWN from Pony World Theatre

Review: NOT / OUR TOWN from Pony World Theatre

A deconstruction of a classic work that could have used more construction.

Review: NOT / OUR TOWN from Pony World Theatre
The cast of Not / Our Town from Pony World Theatre.
Photo credit: Dangerpants Photography

Dear Readers, there's an interesting an innovative new work based on an old classic playing in Capitol Hill with Pony World Theatre's "Not / Our Town". Even as I arrived at the theater, the pre-show activities the audience must partake in were filled with promise. Unfortunately, that promise quickly waned as this "NOT / Our Town" ended up mostly being "Our Town Highlights" mixed with one of my pet peeves, someone else's therapy on stage.

The premise from writer and director Brendan Healey has potential. The nine-member cast (Tyler Campbell, Sophia Franzella, Mark Fullerton, Kathy Hsieh, Agastya Kohli, Jesse Parce, Alanah Pascual, Lisa Viertel, and Amber Walker) take Thornton Wilder's classic "Our Town" and present it based on the suggestions given in a survey the audience takes before the show. Things like what style of dance we will see. Will there be puppets used in a certain scene? Will they take on a certain scene as if written by another playwright, Pinter, Chekov, or Beckett? They make it very clear this is not improv but pre-scripted options that might arise based on the audience choices.

And while that sounds fun, and was at first, it gets largely abandoned all too quickly. The introduction gets the audience involved and laughing as they reveal the scores and choices we made. And then we're introduced to the character of Mark (Fullerton), a drama teacher who loves "Our Town", and his daughter Amber (Walker) who hates it. The two bicker over which one of them is right and how to present the story to us, but mostly end up just having the actors do scenes from the original. Occasionally they toss in one of the quirky audience choices but even they become tiresome and sometimes detrimental as one of our choices did on the night I saw it. That choice being to have the actors deliver their lines quietly into microphones which felt like a live ASMR video and sapped all the energy from the show and was putting us to sleep.

Review: NOT / OUR TOWN from Pony World Theatre
Agastya Kohli and Tyler Campbell in
Not / Our Town from Pony World Theatre.
Photo credit: Dangerpants Photography

But even as they did diverge from the original Wilder play, the replacement scenes were the father and daughter arguing. Arguments that I assume were supposed to remind us how "Our Town" is all just about people's lives and here are some modern-day people with similar problems. But where Wilder was trying to show us slices of Americana, the new scenes felt like Healy exorcising his own demons. But what he needed to exorcise was the air in the play as it felt like our audience had not picked Chekov as the replacement playwright but Pinter with insane amounts of pauses throughout, especially from Fullerton.

The cast does what they can with this but it's an uphill battle. To name a few, Franzella and Pascual make for an adorable couple when portraying Emily and George. The always amazing Viertel brings in the gossipy Mrs. Soames to wonderful effect. And Parce gives us a harrowing glimpse at the drunken choir director Mr. Stimson. But those moments that bring some life into the play are just moments from the original play. Even the dance number that livened up the scene early in the play keeps coming back with the actors less and less enthusiastic about doing it for some reason. Not sure why.

And that is the main question I left the play with, "why?" Why were they doing this? What were they hoping to unearth or illuminate with this telling of the classic? Was it all just silliness to bolster up a play that some might not gravitate toward or was there something more? I honestly never found an answer for that. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I must give Pony World Theatre's production of "Not / Our Town" a perplexed and disappointed MEH-. It had some interesting moments and some potential in the premise, but the end result left me wanting.

"Not / Our Town" from Pony World Theatre performs at 12th Ave Arts through December 3rd. For tickets or information visit them online at www.ponyworld.org.



World Premiere of A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS to Open at Seattle Opera in February Photo
On February 25, 2023, McCaw Hall will host the world premiere of A Thousand Splendid Suns, written by composer Sheila Silver and librettist Stephen Kitsakos, based on the gripping novel by Khaled Hosseini.

MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL Begins Performances At The Paramount Theatre December 14 Photo
Premera Blue Cross Broadway at The Paramount welcomes the first North American tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical, which will play Seattle's Paramount Theatre from December 14 through January 1, 2023.

Review: THE WIZ at The 5th Avenue Theatre Photo
L. Frank Baum’s classic fantasy “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is the gift that just keeps on giving. From its 1901 origins to the 1939 iconic film to any number of sequels, movies, and even a Broadway musical or two, we always seem to want to hear more and more about the magical land of Oz. And no small part of those tales is the fabulous William F. Brown and Charlie Smalls, Tony Award winning musical, “The Wiz” from 1974. And now the 5th Avenue Theatre has brought this green gem to vivid life with their current delightful production.

Review: THE WICKHAMS: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY at Taproot Theatre Photo
Christmas is a most favorite holiday to many, and the Jane Austen fan base has never been stronger. What could be more perfect than to revive some of Austen’s most beloved characters (and some of her most notorious) in a delightful Christmas setting? THE WICKHAMS: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY is a holiday treat. The production blends the lavish frippery of the Regency era with dollops of modern humor that is sure to please both traditional and contemporary tastes.


From This Author - Jay Irwin

         Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years.  He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting... (read more about this author)


Review: THE WIZ at The 5th Avenue TheatreReview: THE WIZ at The 5th Avenue Theatre
November 28, 2022

L. Frank Baum’s classic fantasy “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is the gift that just keeps on giving. From its 1901 origins to the 1939 iconic film to any number of sequels, movies, and even a Broadway musical or two, we always seem to want to hear more and more about the magical land of Oz. And no small part of those tales is the fabulous William F. Brown and Charlie Smalls, Tony Award winning musical, “The Wiz” from 1974. And now the 5th Avenue Theatre has brought this green gem to vivid life with their current delightful production.

Review: RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA at Village TheatreReview: RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA at Village Theatre
November 19, 2022

“Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” is an enduring classic for a reason. Sure, it’s family friendly and has a worldwide recognizable name, but in addition to it’s wonderful songs, it’s shown to be amazingly adaptable based on the production. From the original telecast versions in the 50’s and 60’s that took a more fairy tale, traditional telling, to the updated Whitney Houston and Brandy Norwood version in the 90’s that leaned into the comedy along with updated orchestrations. Not to mention many, many stage revivals. With songs from the original sometimes cut and songs from other R&H shows being added in, this classic is certainly a living and growing thing. The current production from Village Theatre tries to emulate that 1997 version. And while I love that version, this production failed in committing to which story it wanted to tell and ended up being a mish-mash of potentially good ideas never fully realized.

Review: NOT / OUR TOWN from Pony World TheatreReview: NOT / OUR TOWN from Pony World Theatre
November 12, 2022

Dear Readers, there’s an interesting an innovative new work based on an old classic playing in Capitol Hill with Pony World Theatre’s “Not / Our Town”. Even as I arrived at the theater, the pre-show activities the audience must partake in were filled with promise. Unfortunately, that promise quickly waned as this “NOT / Our Town” ended up mostly being “Our Town Highlights” mixed with one of my pet peeves, someone else’s therapy on stage.

Review: THE AMEN CORNER at The Williams Project And LangstonReview: THE AMEN CORNER at The Williams Project And Langston
November 10, 2022

Dear Readers, if you’re at all familiar with The Williams Project, then you know of their hard-hitting shows. Their “Blues for Mister Charlie” from 2016 was just one of their outstanding works. Now they’re back to take on another piece from James Baldwin, his “The Amen Corner”, and once again they show they know how to drive a story home.

Review: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at The Paramount TheatreReview: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at The Paramount Theatre
November 9, 2022

Dear Readers, I’m going to offer up a few unpopular opinions of mine. First, I’m not a huge fan of Alanis Morissette. Not that I dislike her, but her album of “Jagged Little Pill” was never my jam. And second, the jukebox musical “Jagged Little Pill”, currently playing at the Paramount Theatre, that takes on the music of Morissette has a book that can’t find who or what it wants to talk about. So instead, it talks about everyone and everything to pretentious effect.